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Seven Cool Things to Note About the New 2021 Ford F-150

Automobile logo Automobile 11/25/2020 Automobile Magazine Staff
a truck is parked on the side of a road: 21 Ford F150 Towing XLT 02 © Automobile Magazine Staff 21 Ford F150 Towing XLT 02

There's lots of big news in Ford's new-for-2021 F-150 pickup, and we imagine there'll be lots of talk about the new hybrid powertrain and its best-in-class (for the moment) towing and hauling ability. In our recent first drive of the 2021 Ford F-150, we were impressed by its abilities, but we also found lots of cool details. Here are seven of our favorites.

© Automobile Magazine Staff

  1. The new-for-2021 hybrid powertrain pairs with the most powerful engine.

When we first heard Ford was adding a hybrid powertrain to the 2021 F-150, we figured it'd be paired with the 3.3-liter, naturally-aspirated V-6 which serves as the F-150's base engine. Then we learned we were on the exact opposite side of correct: The hybrid is available with the F-150's most powerful engine, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Electric assistance raises the total output by 30 horsepower to 430 and by 70 lb-ft of torque to 570; it also boosts fuel economy to 24 mpg for both city and highway. Now that's an eco-friendly powertrain we can live with.

a person on the machine © Automobile Magazine Staff

  1. The 2021 Ford F-150 can power your home or business.

Buy an F-150 hybrid pickup, and you can get an optional 7,200-watt power supply that feeds four 120-volt/20-amp plugs and one 240-volt/30-amp plugs, all drawing power from the hybrid drivetrain. Ford gave us a laundry list of items you can power with 7.2 kW, and it's enough to literally run a wood or metal shop out of your truck's bed. Put another way: If the power goes out in your house, a few extension cords will keep the lights on and the fridge and TV going—so while your neighbors play Parcheesi by candlelight, F-150 owners can crack open a cold beverage and watch MotorTrend On Demand on the big screen.

© Automobile Magazine Staff

  1. The 2021 Ford F-150's tailgate has built-in bottle openers.

No, seriously—for 2021, Ford incorporated cargo tie-downs into the tailgate, which are shaped so that they also work as bottle openers. We guess Ford's engineers were ready to pop open a cold one after long months of design work. Other nifty tailgate tricks: Molded into its plastic back are pencil and cup holders, metric and Imperial rulers, a phone/tablet stand, and pockets for C-clamps. And the tailgate is power-operated in higher trim levels.

a close up of a suitcase © Automobile Magazine Staff

  1. You want Easter eggs? There's an Easter egg.

Chrysler is well known for the Easter eggs its designers sprinkle around its vehicles (particularly Jeeps, but there's a swipe at Ford in the new 2021 Ram TRX), and even General Motors is getting into the act with the C8 Corvette and the upcoming Hummer EV pickup truck. Well, the 2021 Ford F-150 has an Easter egg as well—an American flag stamped into the edge of the air vent, which you'll see every time you open the driver's door.

a close up of a car © Automobile Magazine Staff

  1. The center screen is a work of art.

Vertically oriented infotainment screens are all the rage—Ford even uses one in the electric Mustang Mach-E—but the 2021 F-150 reminds us how useful a traditional landscape-oriented screen can be. The F-150's optional 12-inch screen has crisp, bright graphics in happy springtime colors, and we particularly like the way the info-split is set up: You can have your tunes in the main section of the screen and navigation on the right edge, where a vertical orientation makes the most sense—and all it takes is a simple swipe to switch between them. Put the new Ford F-150 in reverse, and you get both a backup camera and a top-down bird's eye view, with razor-sharp images. It's one of the best screens we've seen in a while.

a hand holding a camera in front of a car © Automobile Magazine Staff

  1. The 2021 Ford F-150 will still steer your trailer in reverse.

Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist isn't new, but it is still cool. Program in your trailer, pop the new F-150 into reverse, take your hands off of the steering wheel, and you can steer the trailer with a dial on the dash. Center the dial and the trailer goes straight, and it's fun to watch the histrionics of the steering wheel as it rushes to keep the trailer pointed in the right direction. It works like a charm, though. This remains one of our favorite features, because even if you're a skilled trailer-backer-upper, it's always tricky to get the trailer exactly where you want it—but Ford's automated system nails it every time.

a car parked in a field © Automobile Magazine Staff

  1. The 2021 Ford F-150 doesn't miss out on the basics.

It'd be easy, we imagine, to dress up a mediocre pickup truck with lots of gadgets, so we're happy to say the 2021 Ford F-150 doesn't miss out on the basics. We've always liked towing with the F-150, and the new one is as good as ever—it feels stable and secure, and the new hybrid powertrain makes it easy to get your trailer-laden rig up to speed. Drive with the cargo bed loaded to its maximum payload, and the F-150 still accelerates strongly and feels perfectly at ease. And even in stripped-down form without all of the fancy gee-gaws, the 2021 Ford F-150 remains a great truck.

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